What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia

What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia
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Updated 28 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia

What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia

Author: Carol Gracie

“Florapedia” is an eclectic A–Z compendium of botanical lore.

With more than 100 enticing entries—on topics ranging from achlorophyllous plants that use a fungus as an intermediary to obtain nutrients from other plants to zygomorphic flowers that admit only the most select pollinators—this collection is a captivating journey into the realm of botany.


What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’

What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’
Updated 23 June 2024
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What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’

What We Are Reading. Today: ‘Women Architects at Work’

Authors: Mary Ann Hunting and Kevin D. Murphy

In the decades preceding World War II, professional architecture schools enrolled increasing numbers of women, but career success did not come easily.

“Women Architects at Work” tells the stories of the resilient and resourceful women who surmounted barriers of sexism, racism, and classism to take on crucial roles in the establishment and growth of Modernism across the United States.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Why Does the World Exist?’

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Updated 22 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Why Does the World Exist?’

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Author: Jim Holt

“Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story” is a nonfiction work by Jim Holt originally published in 2012 that delves into one of the oldest — and most profound — puzzles that mankind faces. He explores various philosophical and scientific theories attempting to explain the existence of the universe and everything in it, raising some thought-provoking questions.

One of the key aspects of Holt’s inquiry is the concept of nothingness. He questions whether there must always be something rather than nothing — that ‘nothingness’ is, in reality, impossible. This leads to a discussion of the nature of existence itself, and whether there is a fundamental reason for the universe’s existence.

Holt also explores the role of religion and theology in answering the question of why the world exists, presenting arguments put forth by theologians and philosophers throughout history, and weighing the merits of various religious and secular explanations.

“Why Does the World Exist?” challenges readers to confront the ultimate existential question and consider the implications of different theories on the nature of reality.

Holt manages to make his examination of complex physics and deep philosophical concepts accessible and easy to read. And his exploration of this profound topic serves as a reminder of the many mysteries that remain unsolved, encouraging readers to contemplate their place in the universe.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Capitalism: The Story behind the Word

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Updated 21 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Capitalism: The Story behind the Word

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Author: Michael Sonenscher

What exactly is capitalism? How has the meaning of capitalism changed over time? And what’s at stake in our understanding or misunderstanding of it? In “Capitalism,” Michael Sonenscher examines the history behind the concept and pieces together the range of subjects bound up with the word. Sonenscher shows that many of our received ideas fail to pick up the work that the idea of capitalism is doing for us, without us even realizing it.
“Capitalism” was first coined in France in the early 19th century. It began as a fusion of two distinct sets of ideas. The first involved thinking about public debt and war finance.
The second involved thinking about the division of labor. Sonenscher shows that thinking about the first has changed radically over time.
Funding welfare has been added to funding warfare, bringing many new questions in its wake. Thinking about the second set of ideas has offered far less room for maneuver. The division of labor is still the division of labor and the debates and discussions that it once generated have now been largely forgotten. By exploring what lay behind the earlier distinction before it collapsed and was eroded by the passage of time, Sonenscher shows why the present range of received ideas limits our political options and the types of reform we might wish for.

 


What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’

What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’
Updated 21 June 2024
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What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’

What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’

Author: B. Rosemary Grant

Scientist Rosemary Grant’s journey in life has involved detours and sidesteps—not the shortest or the straightest of paths, but one that has led her to the top of evolutionary biology.

Grant’s unorthodox career is one woman’s solution to the problem of combining professional life as a field biologist with raising a family.


What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park
Updated 19 June 2024
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What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

It’s hard not to feel anxious about the problem of climate change, especially if we think of it as an impending planetary catastrophe.

In “Slow Burn,” R. Jisung Park encourages us to view climate change through a different lens: one that focuses less on the possibility of mass climate extinction in a theoretical future, and more on the everyday implications of climate change here and now. 

Park shows how climate change headlines often miss some of the most important costs.